Arizona had success isolating its speedy guards and driving to the basket the last time it played UCLA and the No. 4 Wildcats will likely try that strategy again when they host the No. 5 Bruins in a key Pac-12 game Saturday night. Arizona beat UCLA 96-85 at Pauley Pavilion in January and freshman guard Kobi Simmons scored a season-high 20 points in the game, often taking advantage of his matchup against Bryce Alford of UCLA.
The first meeting between the Wildcats and Bruins also marked the season debut of Allonzo Trier, who was suspended the first 19 games for testing positive for a banned substance. Trier scored 12 points off the bench in the game, but he’s starting now and playing his best basketball of the season. The sophomore forward scored a season-high 25 points Thursday in a 90-77 win over USC and is 8-for-11 from 3-point range in his last two games. With two games remaining, Arizona enters the weekend with a one-game lead over No. 7 Oregon for the top spot in the Pac-12 standings and 2 1/2 games up on third-place UCLA, which has three games left.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: Arizona opened as 1.5-point home favorites and as of Saturday morning that number hasn’t moved. The total hit the board at 160.5 and like the line has yet to budge. Check out the complete line history here.
UCLA – G Lonzo Ball (Probable, ankle), G Armani Dodson (Out indefinitely, shoulder), G Prince Ali (Out for season, knee), F Alex Olesinski (Out for season, foot)
Arizona – G Dylan Smith (Out for season, eligibility), F Talbott Denny (Out for season, knee)
ABOUT UCLA (25-3 SU, 14-14 ATS, 14-12-2 O/U): The Bruins figure to counter Arizona’s speedy guard play with solid ball movement and high-percentage shooting. T.J. Leaf didn’t play well in the first game against the Wildcats, finishing with 12 points and three rebounds, but the team’s leading scorer and rebounder at 17 points and 8.8 rebounds figures to get plenty of chances to make a difference the second time around. The other highly touted freshman for the Bruins, point guard Lonzo Ball, is coming off a season-low four points Thursday in an 87-75 win against Arizona State and rolled his ankle during the first half, briefly causing him to return to the locker room.
ABOUT ARIZONA (26-3 SU, 14-13-2 ATS, 13-15-1 O/U): Lauri Markkanen won the matchup of top freshman forwards when the Wildcats beat UCLA last month, finishing with 18 points and seven rebounds. Markkanen, who leads Arizona in scoring (15.6) and rebounding (7.5), hit a lull earlier this month when he scored in single digits in four straight games, but he’s back to producing big numbers, averaging 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in the last three. Dusan Ristic came off the bench against USC after missing the previous game with an ankle injury, but the 7-footer is expected to return to the starting lineup against the Bruins.
* Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
* Wildcats are 1-5-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a home favorite.
* Under is 9-2 in Bruins last 11 games as a road underdog of 0.5-6.5.
* Bruins are 5-0 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Arizona.
* Underdog is 11-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings.
Check out the complete list of hot and cold trends here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 59 percent of Covers users are siding with the chalk Arizona Wildcats and Over is picking up 64 percent of the totals wagers. Click here for complete consensus data.